The COVID-19 endurance test of present times has taught me much about loving people and finding a good conscience before the Lord. The virus’ love challenge has been the “sacrificial wearing of masks” and the inability to pay social visits to my parents. You see, my dad has a life threatening disease. As a result, my brother and I have been unable to engage our parents in a “normal fashion” since COVID-19’s arrival in early 2020.
I know that many of us have suffered greatly as we have passed on opportunities to physically embrace loved ones this year...but love makes difficult choices that surpass self-interests. Many reading this post have been isolated or alone for an extended period because of love. God bless you for your intentional sacrifice and care.
In proper perspective, sacrificial love is the kind of love exemplified by Christ (Romans 5:8). This love exudes a respect for God’s sovereignty and will. In connection to this truth, I have often referenced a quote from Martin Luther over the past few months. During the Bubonic Plague, he stated, “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid persons and places where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
For committed Christ-followers, the virus has tested our desire to engage the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:28-34). Have I been able to love God with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind, and with all of my strength during the pandemic? Furthermore, like Martin Luther, have I been able to love those around me by not propagating the spread of the virus with unnecessary risk taking? We all fall short in our efforts at times, but we should praise God for His tests. His examinations show us the true condition of our hearts.
Beyond mask wearing and social distancing comes the extended test of my faith. For myself, COVID’s reality includes the decision to not receive either of the U.S. manufactured vaccines. My conscience excludes me from participating in the “hope and wonder” of Pfizer and Moderna’s offerings. Unlike Luther’s day, medicines can now be created on the foundations of death.
As published by manufacturers and health care providers, the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna were tested on fetal cell lines. While aborted cells are not in the vaccines, they were used as a “guinea pig” to explore the products’ effectiveness. These cell lines come from one elective abortion conducted in 1973. The aborted baby in question has generated countless cell lines for extensive medical research and drug development over the decades.
Of course, I may have inadvertently taken a tainted vaccine in that past without understanding the moral and ethical implications of pharmaceutical research, but new awareness of aborted cell usage stings my conscience (1 Timothy 1:5). The world in which we live is evil, and unless we connect the dots for ourselves, we will display ignorance of the world’s underpinnings (Ephesians 5:15-16). For the record, please don’t infer that I am anti-science or anti-medicine. Fetal tissue and fetal cell manipulation is what I describe as an “unnatural science” in God’s creation. In short, it is an example of love becoming cold for self-interests (Matthew 24:12).
As I think about the aborted baby’s cell line used in medical research, I contemplate Cain’s murder of Abel and the Lord’s reaction. Genesis 4:10 conveys, "He said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.’” This statement from God indicates two notions: the first being that God is aware of all events that transpire in His creation and the second indicating that blood spilled in unjust death cries out to be avenged. No matter how long ago a baby was aborted, and no matter how long ago innocent blood was spilled, God will remember it for all time. In Matthew 10:29-30, Jesus states, “Are two sparrows not sold for an assarion? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all counted.”
To be clear, the vaccines do not prevent the spread of COVID-19, they only protect the injected individual from becoming sick. So, in my case, this means potential sickness may come to me personally. It also implies mask wearing in many future situations. But as I walk this path, I will praise God for His wisdom...and I will identify the cost as a blessing.
Be assured that I don’t judge those who elect to take the vaccines. It is not my place or anyone else’s place to do so. I pray that God reveals truth through His word and through the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. As for myself, I cannot act against my conscience in this matter. To act against one’s own faith is a sin (Romans. 14:23).
God will continually test the hearts and faith of His people. As a result, our decisions will be counter to the world’s patterns and practices. We will seem a bit off kilter or strange to the lost world. This is quite fine with me...God’s Word insists this is the reality for Christ followers.
Finally, if you wear a mask for someone, God bless you! If you take special care to protect the lives of others, then His love abounds in you! And if God has tested you in new ways during the pandemic, then praise Him!
Mark 12:28-34 One of the scribes came up and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no other besides Him; and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And then, no one dared any longer to question Him.
Acts 24:16 In view of this I also do my best to maintain a blameless conscience both before God and before other people, always.
2 Corinthians 1:12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.
Ephesians 5:15-16 So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
1 Timothy 1:5
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.